Azul Beach Hotel: A Riviera Maya boutique all inclusive resort

All-inclusive Mexican hotels are convenient for families, but their sheer size can sometimes mean a lack of a personal touch. Enter the boutique all inclusive resort experience. We’ve long been fans of boutique hotels for families, but definitely need simplicity of all-inclusive pricing, so we jumped at the chance to try Azul Beach Hotel along Mexico’s Riviera Maya. Azul Beach Hotel boasts fewer than 150 rooms (as opposed to many all-inclusives 1000+), Gourmet Inclusive cuisine, and impeccable service.

boutique all inclusive resort

The property and grounds aren’t too shabby either.

From the moment we arrived, hot and tired after a red eye from San Francisco, we could tell Azul Beach was different than your average all-inclusive. We were greeted with tropical drinks and shaded swinging outdoor beds to lounge on as we picked pillows from the extensive pillow menu and scents for our room. Yes, scents for our room! Check in was graciously efficient and within minutes, we were dining in Azul’s open-air lunch restaurant, Blue. No ‘cattle call’ buffets, here: breakfast is the only meal with a buffet option.

Azul Beach hotel lobby

Azul family suites:

We stayed in one of Azul’s new family suites, which worked perfectly for our family of two adults and three older kids (8, 12, and 14). Usually, our family of five barely fits in a room, but with the suite’s pull-out trundle bed configuration and king bed, everyone had adequate space. Privacy was hard to come by with the open floor plan, but the wide, shuttered windows from bathroom to bedroom to living space could be shut if needed. We had a small dining table and a large balcony with additional (and cozy) papasan chair seating, plus a complimentary stocked mini-bar and coffee service. We had a full closet and plenty of room to spread out. The bathroom featured a jacuzzi tub and full shower, plus duel sinks. Our second-floor room overlooked the hotel’s swim-up family suites with a pool view.

Azul Beach Hotel

Azul grounds and amenities:

Azul’s grounds are lush and peaceful; we loved that buildings are capped at three stories, adding to a village-like feel instead of a hotel tower feel. The whole resort is very walkable; within 3-4 minutes families can walk between the beach and pools, rooms and restaurants. The swimming beach is just steps from the main pools, and recreation areas (and events) are scattered throughout the property…no matter where you are, something is going on.

Azul beach hotel

Our kids enjoyed the beach, but spent more time in Azul’s fun network of pools. There are three beach-side pools adjacent to the beach restaurants (one with a swim-up bar), plus an entire system of pools surrounding the resort’s many swim-up suites. In the center of this system is another large pool with swim-up bar next to the sports bar and ping-pong tables (the kids’ club is near here, too).

While the kids swam in the pools, my husband and I spent the majority of our time beachside, enjoying Azul’s beach beds and beautiful ocean views. Tip: to reserve one of the hotel’s approximately 20 beach beds, join the line at the beach butler stand by 2:30 pm the day before. Beach beds are reserved at 3 pm on a first-in-line, first-served basis. The beds line the beach, and come with plenty of towels, sunscreen, drinks, and sand toys. (All the above can be requested individually from the beach butler stand as well.) If you don’t get a beach bed, there are plenty of chaise lounge chairs to use, plus kayaks to use free of charge. Beach volleyball and soccer games are organized throughout the day, and a Hobie Cat catamaran can be reserved (complete with operator).

Puerto Morelos

The only think lacking at the beach butler stand are complimentary snorkeling gear rentals, but there’s a reason for this: while you’ll see a fish or two from the beach, the best snorkeling is a matter of yards out, along the Mayan Reef. Skiffs depart Azul most afternoons for the reef; families can reserve seats for $40/person, which includes all gear.

Azulitos kids’ club and recreation:

The kids’ club is located indoors near the interior pool, but activities take place throughout the resort. We appreciated that kids were not confined to the indoors. Kids can come and go at will (either checked in and out by parents or granted their own in and out privileges) and the day’s activities, locations, and times are posted on a board by the main pool. In the center, kids find fun gym equipment (including mats and a balance board), video games, a Lego station, and Fisher Price toys galore (Fisher Price is a partner with Azul…families with young kids will also see the toys and baby/toddler equipment at meals and in their rooms if requested).

The kids’ club is for ages up to 12 (though our 12-year-old wasn’t interested), and though there isn’t a specific program for teens, Azul keeps a recreation staff busy with fun activities that appeal to this age group. During our stay, the recreation leaders engaged the teens on site with sports, ping pong games, card games in the open-air bar areas, and beach soccer. There’s a very relaxed atmosphere; while kids can certainly stay busy with activities should they want to, it’s just as easy to relax. We never got the ‘scheduled cruise ship’ feel.

Azul Beach Hotel villas

Dining:

Food at Azul is truly fantastic. When I read that the dining was what they call ‘gourmet inclusive’, I was skeptical…after all, it’s still an all-inclusive resort, right? But I was proven wrong from the start. The five dinner restaurants on site are intimate, with exceptional service and high-quality cuisine. During our stay, four of five restaurants were open every evening (no reservations needed), with multiple lunch options as well. In addition, room service is available 24/7. When we had a very early morning excursion to depart for, we were able to order a full breakfast at 5 am to our room.

A video overview:

The cuisine at Azul restaurants range from Italian food to Latin and Asian to traditional Mexican and American. Our family’s favorite: the sushi offerings at Tainan. A close second: the pasta at Roma. Every morning, we ate from the large buffet offerings at Blue (though a menu is available as well) and for lunches we dined at beachside Chil and from the pool bar offerings.

Date last visited:

August 2013

Location:

Azul Beach Hotel is located in Puerto Morelos, only 20 minutes from the Cancun airport. This small fishing village is a world removed from the bustle of the Cancun hotel zone, yet it’s fairly easy to return to the city for any excursions (we returned for a day of swimming with whale sharks with Solo Buceo). Cab fare to and from Cancun is approximately $50 US (just be sure to agree on this amount before getting in the cab) or a very reliable shuttle service from the airport can get you there with luggage and up to six people for $75. (We used Lomas.) In Puerto Morelos, families are also only approximately 60 km from Playa del Carmen activities, such as cenote excursions and eco parks.

Tip: If you plan to explore the Riviera Maya region from Tulum to Cancun frequently, renting a car may be the best option.

Rates:

At the time of our visit, our all-inclusive rate was $300/adults and $100 for kids 12 and under per night. This rate came to approximately $300 more per night than at a standard large all-inclusive hotel, and was well worth it for our vacation.

As I disclose whenever applicable, my family and I experienced Azul Beach Hotel as guests of the resort and on a media rate, for the purpose of review. This hospitality came with no expectation of a positive review.

About the author

Amy Whitley AUTHOR: Amy Whitley is the founding editor of Pit Stops for Kids and content editor of Trekaroo. She writes on staff monthly as a family travel expert at Go Green Travel Green and Practical Travel Gear, and contributes to Outdoors NW as an outdoor adventure traveler. Find Amy at Google.

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  2. What a marvellous review. I’m a budget backpacker but not really into all inclusives but I wouldn’t say no to unlimited Mexican food. Safe travels. Jonny

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